Former Speaker of the House Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) listens during a press conference with members of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party at the Cannon House Office Building on November 15, 2023 in Washington, DC. Anna Moneymaker—Getty Image

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to Resign From Congress

BY NIK POPLI |

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the former House Speaker who was ousted from the position by members of his own party, announced on Wednesday that he will resign from Congress at the end of the year.

“I have decided to depart the House at the end of this year to serve America in new ways,” McCarthy wrote in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. “I know my work is only getting started.”

His announcement will leave the House GOP with an even slimmer majority—they already hold only an eight seat majority in the chamber—until a special election can be held to fill his vacated seat. Many in Washington expected McCarthy to leave Congress following a historic vote in October when a group of conservative hardliners successfully kicked him out of his leadership position for the first time in U.S. history, leaving the California Republican in an uncomfortable position within his conference. The move signaled a major shift in the dynamics of the House GOP and highlighted deep divisions within the party.

“I will continue to recruit our country’s best and brightest to run for elected office,” McCarthy wrote. “The Republican Party is expanding every day, and I am committed to lending my experience to support the next generation of leaders.”

McCarthy’s departure marks a significant turn from his earlier statements, where he had asserted his intention to remain in Congress. The former Speaker, who first entered Congress in 2007, swiftly ascended the leadership ladder, overcoming an unsuccessful bid for the gavel in 2015. Known for his prolific fundraising, McCarthy’s tumultuous journey culminated in his appointment as House minority leader and later as speaker after a contentious 15-round vote.

The catalyst for McCarthy’s ouster was the assertion by eight conservative hardliners—led by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz—that he had violated their agreement made during the initial speaker race. They accused McCarthy of breaching the terms by supporting a clean stop-gap spending bill, prompting a motion to vacate. Democrats backed the motion, adding to the pressure on the embattled Republican leader.

Tensions between McCarthy and his critics have been palpable since the motion to vacate, with some members expressing dissatisfaction over his handling of the speaker’s race to replace him. The sympathy McCarthy initially garnered following his leadership ouster began to wane, further exacerbating the divisions within the GOP. He was succeeded as House Speaker by Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana.

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